West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday hit out at the Centre for forcibly implementing the new farm laws and accused it taking up schemes without consulting the states or providing financial support for projects. She sought to know where the money of the Prime Minister's Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations (PM CARES) fund is and wondered why no audit was conducted in it.
Banerjee said the country is going through a "suffocating phase" and slammed the BJP for demanding audits into the direct cash transfer scheme for Cyclone Amphan affected families. The BJP wants the Bengal government to implement its schemes without giving any financial assistance, the chief minister said asserting that her government will not work as per the whims and fancies of the NDA government at the Centre.
"Why should we implement the central projects, which are already there in the state? The Centre is taking funds from the state governments and then lecturing us. "They (the Centre) don't pay fully for the central projects and yet want those to be implemented. The developmental projects of the state government are fully funded by itself," Banerjee, a vocal critic of the BJP said.
Keeping up her attack, the TMC supremo said as per the projects the Centre will pay 40 per cent and the state 60 per cent. "But they (the Cemntre) will take full credit, we will not allow it". Replying to questions on the state government not implementing central schemes like the PM Kisan Samman Nidhi, she said, "Projects are being sanctioned by the Centre without consulting the states. From where will we get the money to implement them?" Banerjee, who was addressing a press conference after a cabinet meeting, said the BJP should not think that the states are "bonded labourers". They are talking about the audit of funds distributed during Amphan (cyclone). There has been complete transparency in the distribution of funds".
A combative Banerjee said "Where has all the money of the PM Cares Fund gone? Does anyone know about the future of these funds? Where are the lakhs of crores of rupees? Why was no audit done? The Centre is lecturing us. What have they given us to fight the coronavirus pandemic," she said. Supporting the ongoing farmers' protest over farm bills, she said the Centre has "snatched their livelihood" and is trying to take away the rights of the farmers.
"They (BJP) are trying to curb all democratic and fundamental rights. They cannot curb the democratic rights of the farmers. The Centre has passed a law which is against the interest of the farmers," she said when asked about the ongoing protest by the farmers. Questioning the reason behind passing the "anti- people" farm bills, Banerjee said, the saffron party did not receive the support of any other political party on it.
"The farmers' bill is an injustice towards the entire farmers' community. Why is the BJP not looking after the country's economy and the farmers? They passed anti-farmer laws and the farmers are angry. The Centre has also passed an anti-people bill like Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill". Criticising the NDA government for removing essential commodities like potato and onion from the Essential Commodities Bill, she said "Just because they have got 300 seats (in Lok Sabha) it doesn't mean that they can do whatever they want".
The farmers are demanding the repeal of the new farm laws which deregulate the sale of agriculture produce. They contend that the laws will lead to the dismantling of the minimum support price (MSP) system. Banerjee also hit out at Union Home Minister Amit Shah for being busy with the Hyderabad Municipal polls.
"The union home minister can't take care of the borders of the country and is busy with municipal polls. He is only busy doing politics".
She said, "We respect the chair of the prime minister. Please don't accuse and abuse us every day," she said.
Charging the Centre with targeting West Bengal with the state elections approaching, the TMC supremo claimed that the law and order situation in the state is better than many other states of the country. "The Centre is using agencies to threaten us. We are not afraid of them. They (BJP) are not a political party but garbage of lies ... It is trying to bulldoze the federal structure of the country" she said.
The feisty TMC leader slammed the BJP leaders for trying to turn Bengal into a state like Gujarat. She said she will never allow "outsiders to turn West Bengal which has its own identity and heritage into Gujarat". "There is no place for outsiders in Bengal. Those who come to the state only during elections and try to disturb the peace of the state are not at all welcome ... People will give a befitting reply to you (BJP)," she said.
Reacting to Banerjee's demand for an audit of PM CARES Fund, West Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh said the TMC government is only interested in siphoning funds sent by the Centre. "The state has either not implemented central schemes or has siphoned off funds sent by the Centre. Why is the state government afraid to give details about the spending of the funds sent by the Centre post-Cyclone Amphan," Ghosh added.